Pointing to “Reasonable Inference,” Judge Denies Companies’ Request to Dismiss Mesothelioma Claims

When Samson Bareh filed a personal injury lawsuit against Mercedes Benz USA and American Honda Motor Co., Inc., both companies filed motions to dismiss the cases against them. But a California judge denied their request, noting that the company’s argument against the former auto mechanic’s claim was unreasonable.

brake repair

Former Auto Mechanic Diagnosed with Mesothelioma

The mesothelioma lawsuit was filed by Samson Bareh, a former auto mechanic who blamed his illness on asbestos contained in the auto parts he worked with.  He filed suit against American Honda Motor Co., Inc. and Mercedes-Benz, USA, accusing them of strict product liability, negligence, and fraud. His suit cited his recollections of having worked on both companies’ vehicles from 1988 forward but did not include the specific models and years of all the cars he’d worked on.

Because of this lack of detail, both companies asked for the mesothelioma liability claims against them to be dismissed. They also argued that there was no evidence of malice or fraud to justify Mr. Bareh’s inclusion of a claim for punitive damages in his suit.

Judge Dismisses Punitive Damages Claim, Allows Balance of Mesothelioma Lawsuit to Proceed

While the Honorable Judge Laura A. Seigle of the Superior Court of California agreed with the companies that there was no evidence to support a claim for punitive damages in the mesothelioma lawsuit, she denied the rest of the companies’ assertions. Though she noted that both had stopped including asbestos in their brakes in 1988, she also pointed out that it was not reasonable to expect the victim to cite each and every type and year of car he’d worked on.

Further, she said that it made sense that a mechanic tasked with brake repair would not have worked on brand new vehicles, so it was reasonable to expect that at least some of the cars he had worked on were manufactured before the switch from asbestos brakes to non-asbestos brakes. “It is not a reasonable inference that all of [the] vehicles for which he replaced brakes in 1988 and a few years thereafter had been manufactured in 1988 and therefore did not have asbestos-containing brakes. It is not a reasonable inference that brand new cars would need their brakes replaced.” Though the mesothelioma lawsuit was stripped of the claim for punitive damages, Mr. Bareh’s case will move forward.

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Paul Danziger

Paul Danziger

Reviewer and Editor

Paul Danziger grew up in Houston, Texas and earned a law degree from Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago. For over 25 years years he has focused on representing mesothelioma cancer victims and others hurt by asbestos exposure. Paul and his law firm have represented thousands of people diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer, recovering significant compensation for injured clients. Every client is extremely important to Paul and he will take every call from clients who want to speak with him. Paul and his law firm handle mesothelioma cases throughout the United States.

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